Anita’s mother loves her, but she is rarely home to give her daughter that reassurance she needs. When Anita and her sister Winnie recounted their story to me, tears streaked little Anita’s face. “Our mother works four hours away” Winnie told me, “in (the over crowded city of) Nairobi. Her job is cleaning public toilets.” All I can say is, these public toilets make most of our public washrooms look – and smell – good (if not great)! The city of Nairobi routinely faces a shortage of water. When this happens, washrooms become collection tanks for waste: waste that is not always carried away. My heart bleeds for Anita’s mother. I keep thinking about the risk of disease in these dirty surroundings and I pray that she will be able to do her job and stay unaffected by the conditions she works in. She seems so brave; forsaking her own comforts in an effort to do everything to help her children. I don’t know if she even earns the equivalent of $1 a day, but she is doing all she can to help her children.
Anita’s father left years ago. He pours his earnings into illicit brew and shows no care for his children. He doesn’t offer a coin for their welfare or education. When Winifred speaks of him, she shutters at the thought and quietly surrenders to the all too common hurt by bowing her head in remorse. Tears come – again. How many times will these children have to cry? How many nights will they sleep with a longing for a hug from mom and dad?
Anita’s adoring grandparents opened their home to the three girls. Her aging grandfather has no savings; he spent the last of it raising his 3 grandchildren. “I have no regrets”, he tells me during a mission interview, “but it is a challenge to provide all they need. Even school fees are a big challenge and sometimes Anita is sent home for fees. We don’t usually have them; she must remain home for weeks and we work to raise what we can. This happens many times each term but Anita is a very clever and disciplined girl. She is a top performer.”
“We thank God for all you have done to help Winifred”, Anita’s grandfather tells me during this intimate visit. He bends over and carefully places 10 eggs into a small, clear plastic bag. Oh my gosh! “I can’t do this“, I think; “I know what he is going to do.” My heart is aching at the thought. I know I can’t say a thing. He also must feel that he can give. I try to hide my own pain.
I tell him that we are going to look for a sponsor for Anita and “I am glad that we came to visit.”
I thank him for having such a kind heart. I know all too well that in Kenya, it is frequently the case that children left behind by misfortune are often left to face life on their own. Children are left to care for children. In Anita’s case, I know one thing for sure. She and her sisters are loved.
The mission ended but Anita’s case was far from over. Just weeks after our return to the USA, Matanya’s Hope held our first golf outing. Anita was sponsored! She will now be able to go to school, fully uniformed and equipped with books, supplies and 3 hot meals every day! Through this kind act, Anita was given the gift of hope. And that, in a nut shell, is what it takes – hearing a story like Anita’s and doing something to change it.
For stories about more children who need sponsorship, please go to our website: www.matanyashope.org or feel free to call us at 708-822-HOPE (4673).